If you noticed a monarch butterfly on campus in recent weeks, you may have entomology professor Dave Hogg to thank. As part of a research project, Hogg has been gathering and raising monarch butterflies and then releasing them on campus. This fall semester, he got his students involved.
As part of Entomology 201: Insects and Human Culture, Hogg’s students had the option to join him for a visit to campus’ Biocore Prairie, one of his field collection sites. They helped gather monarch butterfly larvae in the field and also visited Hogg’s laboratory to observe butterflies at various stages of development. Finally, the students helped release the adult insects.
“We probably released about 100 adults,” says Hogg. “The students really enjoyed the whole experience.”
Entomology 201 has a long history of providing engaging, hand-on insect experiences for students. It started around 20 years ago, when entomology professor Walt Goodman started teaching the course.
“Walt implemented this new project, where students need to raise a tobacco hornworm from egg to adult in their dorm room or apartment,” explains Hogg. “This project causes a lot of students freak out at first, but many end up overcoming their fear of insects by doing this.”
The revamped course grew in popularity, swelling over the years to fill Russell Lab’s largest lecture hall, which fits about 150 students, where its held today.
Six years ago, Hogg started teaching Ento 201 during the fall semester (Goodman still teaches it in spring), adding his own insect buzz: honeybees. In addition to raising hornworms, he started taking students to visit the honeybee hive on the 6th floor balcony of the Microbial Sciences Building. They also learn about Colony Collapse Disorder and write a term paper on the subject.
After teaching about bees and beekeeping for a couple of years, Hogg decided to walk the talk. He bought a few bee hives and has added an additional hive each year. It’s turned into a sweet side project for him.
“I’ve got 150 pounds of honey this year, the most I’ve ever had,” he says.
Hogg added the monarch butterfly project – as an alternative to the honeybee option – for the first time this year.